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TURN, SLIDE, FLIP – the math words used when working with geometric shapes. Turn & rotate are essentially the same thing, so we decided to use our first initials with any choice of shape behind it to create these cool works of art. Students drew their initial image in the first square, traced it, and turned the initial in each of the remaining squares.


This year, our schedule has afforded us the opportunity to have time to work with the K-5 classroom teachers in a much more meaningful way – for our students, and for us – by collaborating. The concept of integration is old, but valuable… students grasp concepts with more mental strength and longevity when the gaps are bridged from the classroom to art & music rooms. The fact that we’re confined to 4 cinder block walls to gain an even more meaningful experience is a different topic for a different day… ANYHOO, I’ve got many projects of collaborative teaching on the block with one completed. I worked with a 5th grade teacher and her students on a Civil Rights project. We met, talked, and discussed at length an idea that would provide the students an opportunity to create something provocative – something others would take notice of…  Last year, I’d done a project with some 5th grade students using digital photography and PowerPoint – based on Barbara Kruger’s works. That lesson went so well and provided such feedback that I thought this would be a great way to have the students deliver THEIR message of civil rights… I went into their classroom with a PowerPoint of appropriate Kruger images and we discussed the meaning behind the words, the use of black & white to create a stark, simple message, etc. The kids and their teacher had different interpretations (I love art!) for each of the images – and it was making them THINK! After the lesson, we talked about how they could use Kruger’s art as inspiration for their own messages and art works. After I left, the classroom teacher did the whole art lesson with her students – Mrs. Fox is an artist herself and excellent with technology, so it was no problem for her to carry the rest of the lesson out as prime facilitator. Click here to see all of the results of this collaborative effort:

As mentioned in a previous posts, we used space as our theme for these super cool works of art – it is also a part of their curriculum. We started by sketching works on manila paper, then tracing them, then using the tracing paper on the backs of the heavyweight foil. Once completed with the foil, we used a wash of india ink on the top of each outer space work. The works turned out waaaay cool!

The 4th & 5th graders have started a project known as tooling, a style and method of pressing designs into metal. At the elementary age, the heavyweight foil is our choice of metal, and the outcomes will be awesome! Students will first sketch their topic/theme, that will be copied onto tracing paper, the tracing paper will be used as a template to draw on the foil, the foil products will have an india ink wash on them and if some students finish early, they will add colored pencil to either the first sketch or tracing paper works! whew!

4th: (see pix below for 4th graders at work) Our topic will be insects (a favorite topic for this art teacher).

5th: Some classes will be working with outer space topics while others will have bluegrass instruments as a focus. Outer space is something the kids will be doing in their classrooms later this year and the bluegrass is something our music teacher will be doing – always a good thing to integrate!

Inspiration: Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night

Obviously one of the most important & reproduced images in the world, Starry Night continues to inspire in the art classroom. Like the 4th graders & their sunflowers, our 5th grade students viewed, described, & identified (identified lines, brushstrokes, objects, etc.) a work of van Gogh’s. We watched a video about Vincent & listened to Don McLean’s “Starry Night”. Instead of reproducing the same image, we created our own Starry Night by choosing a different locale (van Gogh was in France). Each student used “brushstrokes” in a slab of clay to create a relief/additive work of “Starry Night in…” They chose a city or locale that meant something to them on a personal level. Their works are expressive, representative of the style of van Gogh, and like the sunflowers of the 4th graders, amazing.

You know what? Sometimes still life can be the most boring task in the world. I’ve got no idea how many I’ve done over the years, but I do know that the objects on the table didn’t interest me in the least. Why not draw objects that have personal meaning? Why not draw objects we are most familiar with but really never pay attention to? Since I teach elementary kids, I want to excite them about art – not bore them to tears with studies that mean very little – or even nothing – to them. Remember being a kid and when your foot grows, your parents HAVE to get you new sneakers?? Picking out the new treads, posing in front of the mirror, and them wearing them to school – everyone’s checkin’ them out – we were groovin’ it up then… Kids aren’t much different now.

It’s always a great surprise to them when I remind them how most objects are created with lines and shapes, and by golly they ALL know how to draw those…. and so then, guess what we’re going to draw for our still life today? Take off your shoes! They look at each other, break out in a big ol’ grin and rip off their shoes…

Sure I throw in art vocabulary like contour lines, shapes, letters of the alphabet (that they write and use every day – mind you, lines and shapes!), texture, value, etc. Art critics can chew me now, but it’s more important that they love art, feel confident in doing art, and realize they CAN do anything they put their minds to – worry about vocabluary? Sorry (not really), it’s just not as important to me…

Shoes R Us

Shoes R Us


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